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Does THX Certified really mean anything?

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Posted on March 21, 2009 at 17:36:16
Phil D
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I just acquired a hugh Technics system and each piece is "THX Certified"

I have been looking the model numbers up and cannot find any info other than this stuff is from 1992.

The three power amps, SE-TX100's, are all Class A with a dual-mono design. The preamp is awesome as is the "Component Selector"

Even the speakers are tagged with THX Certified...the badges are metal and heavy duty! The tweeters all look like the Peerless domes found in Polk speakers. The passive subwoofer has two 10's in them.

This stuff came out of a doctor's condo that is worth 3 mil. All the stuff looks very high-end.

Can anyone point me in a good direction to get more info?

Thanks!

 

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Sure, posted on March 21, 2009 at 17:55:12
E-Stat
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the manufacturers bothered to get them certified. Many a Polk and Klipsch in wall or in ceiling speakers are likewise THX certified. That and $.75 will buy you a cup of coffee.

rw

 

Used to, posted on March 21, 2009 at 18:09:57
henrybasstardo
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Don't know if it does now. It was 100WPC or more continuous for maybe.........
A whole second.

I don't know the details but it did mean something at sometime.


Cheers

 

RE: Does THX Certified really mean anything?, posted on March 21, 2009 at 19:36:39
Lucas Membrane


 
I've heard that it does and that it is an expensive certification to get, therefore many manufacturers do not get it.

It includes some standards like a flat frequency response and an ability to go up to 115db (that is way beyond what makes your head explode) without audible distortion.

As we all care about inaudible levels of distortion, it probably does not mean much to us. But it is nice to know that your amplifier is certified not to have its screws shook loose when it is set to music at 115 db. I
think that's too loud for Sousa. The only thing I could listen to at that level would be polka, as the neighbors might blame it on the alcohol.




 

115 db?, posted on March 21, 2009 at 21:03:41
E-Stat
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Why on earth would anyone want to do that? I find a different answer here.

rw

 

RE: 115 db?, posted on March 21, 2009 at 22:20:19
Lucas Membrane


 
Take a look at this link. It says:

* No audible distortion playing program material at 115dBC

OK. What's a dBC? IDK. A dBA is used for ordinary sound. A dBC is used for very loud sound. It stands for deafening beyond comprehension or death by compression or something like that. THX is a theatre kind of standard. It's for people who want to get shook to death by explosions, earthquakes, jet planes, and car crashes.




 

RE: Does THX Certified really mean anything?, posted on March 22, 2009 at 03:02:05
Michael Samra
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THX was born 20 years ago, out of filmmaker George Lucas’ vision to improve the quality of sound throughout the film production chain. Still, there remains confusion about what THX does and how its certification programs add value to the production and presentation of entertainment content.

A brief history

In 1982, Lucas hired an audio scientist, Tomlinson Holman, to develop specifications for Lucas’ audio mixing facilities at Skywalker Ranch in northern California. Holman was given one year to study sound technologies and processes throughout the film production chain — from the movie set to the cinema — with the goal of improving cinematic sound production for Lucas’ next film, “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.”

During his year of research, Holman found that the technology in most professional mixing rooms and commercial cinema auditoriums hadn’t seen improvements since the 1950s. In fact, the Hollywood studios hadn’t built a professional audio mixing room since the end of World War II. The result? In most facilities, the quality of equipment and acoustics was so poor that it was impossible for filmmakers, re-recording mixers and sound designers to hear the detail in their sonic presentations.

After the Skywalker Sound audio facilities were completed, Lucas and Holman started to push the THX standards out to commercial cinemas and professional mixing rooms, as well as to home entertainment products.

THX, Dolby and DTS

Two decades after THX was founded, it remains a popular misconception among media professionals and consumers that THX, Dolby and DTS offer competing sound formats. Actually, this isn’t the case. In fact, THX coexists with Dolby or DTS in thousands of professional recording and mixing facilities, cinemas, and home entertainment components. Dolby provides technology for encoding and decoding audio information on film, DVDs, music, and consumer and professional equipment. Meanwhile, THX sets standards for equipment performance and the physical design of professional mixing and presentation environments.

For broadcast media professionals, it provides specifications for the design of multichannel recording, screening and mixing rooms. One of these certification programs is THX pm3, which stands for “professional multichannel mixing and monitoring.” The program focuses on specifications for the design of professional studios that produce non-theatrical audio presentations, such as DVD and other 5.1 soundtracks, video games, and programs for television and multimedia distribution.

The certification creates a standardized environment at production facilities to make sure the quality and integrity of the audio and visual content is always delivered to audiences. The program defines and enforces standards for room acoustics, background noise and sound isolation, and loudspeaker and monitor placement and performance. THX even sets guidelines for lighting levels and operator viewing angles within the room itself to ensure the content creator’s vision is faithfully and consistently delivered.

Standards for broadcast quality

With an increasing amount of multichannel programming material being created for broadcast, having a consistent monitoring environment is an advantage to editors, engineers and producers alike. In every THX certified environment, whether it’s a commercial cinema, screening room, dubbing stage, mixing room or transfer suite, standards specify everything that might influence the monitoring accuracy. It specifies the audio bandwidth, linearity, distortion, signal/noise ratio and maximum output of the audio equipment, in addition to the placement and setup calibration of the visual equipment and the seating placement. The room acoustics are also specified for maximum allowable local and intrusive noise, appropriate high and mid-band reverberation, appropriate level and delay of first-arriving reflections, and control of bass modes. The visual environment is specified for monitor position and stray light control. For instance, in a small recording or mixing room, reverberation decay must stay within +/- 2dB in the middle octaves, with an RT60 target of 2- to 4ms. The room must be free of first reflections from the front speakers that fall with 12ms or 12dB of the sound first arriving at the operator’s location. The room must also be free of intrusive noise at NC25 or better.

The audio system components themselves must be chosen from a list of THX-approved products — which includes speakers from Mackie Designs, Genelec and JBL — and installed and calibrated to exact standards. System bass management and bass and LFE levels must meet precise requirements. The video monitors must be of broadcast quality and properly calibrated. Finally, the viewing environment must meet ITU and SMPTE requirements for light level and color as well as image position and size.

Over the last few years, pm3 rooms have been used to prepare many programs for television shows, from sitcoms to network movies-of-the-week. The pm3 program provides media professionals a listening and viewing environment that is as transparent as possible. Editors and producers know that the visual detail and sonic presentation will be maintained when they transfer projects between THX pm3 certified facilities, allowing critical judgments to be made regardless of the room or facility.

John Dahl is the technical product marketing manager for THX.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



If the power supply waveform isn't pretty,neither is the sound in most cases.

 

the home THX program was a combination of standards and design protocols, posted on March 22, 2009 at 05:05:45
Jeff Joseph
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It called for speakers that had certain dispersion characteristics from the
midrange up on the LCR channels and dipole side speakers.

They also had to be low distortion up to a very high volume level.

The processor also used some additional DSP in the rear channels to add a sense of spaciousness to the surrounds.

The Technics system was the first complete THX system from a single manufacturer.

 

RE: Sure, posted on March 22, 2009 at 10:39:05
Jim McShane
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Have you ever read the requirements? To make the statement you made is simply propagating misinformation IMHO. Here is a bit of what's involved, lifted from another site:

"Not a standard by itself, THX Home Cinema aims at delivering cinema-quality picture and sound to the home. At the same time…

Many do not have a true understanding of what the THX certification system and related technology is all about, nor what the different labels found on home theater THX certified gear really mean, yet to the 'everyday consumer', the 'THX' label signifies that the highest standards have been used.

Expressed differently, the THX Home Cinema certification program has been designed such as to fit the different surround sound technologies in their totality, into high-end home theater systems.

This means that THX is all about the technically competent and correct reproduction of any video and audio content - one that closely replicates the monitoring environment in the studio."



There is no claim made regarding specific "hi-fi" performance, only the claim that it mimics the studio. Applying typical hi-fi audio standards to it is like rating lawn mowers by their 0-60 MPH acceleration times!

Continuing...

"Major aspects of the THX Home Cinema certification program include:

*Re-equalization to compensate for the differing tonal balances that are appropriate in home theaters versus movie theaters, thus reducing the normally higher treble associated with the latter.

*Timbre matching to complement the tonal qualities of the front and rear speakers to create a more uniform surround soundstage.

*Decorrelation of the surround channels in Dolby Pro Logic surround systems. The scope is to introduce minor diversity to the mono-surround channel serving the two rear speakers in this surround format, thus leading to a more diffused feel. This helps avoid the collapse of the centered rear soundfield produced by this monaural signal to the speaker closest to the listener. The latest THX Home Cinema certified receivers include adaptive decorrelation that automatically switches off the related circuitry when not required e.g. in Dolby Digital.

*Bass management based on a precise crossover cut-off point at exactly 80Hz, and a defined sub-woofer ‘slope’ driver response. While THX recommends using a sub-woofer and setting all other speakers to 'small' to be able to place the subwoofer at the best sounding position in the room, at the same time, it also supports other options, including that of mixing the bass information from the left and right channels with the sub woofer channel.

*Amplifier Specs that are much tougher than on non-THX certified gear; these include the ability to drive low impedance (3.2 Ohms) speakers while still producing a volume level of 105dB.

*A THX reference level (of 75dB) that aims at reproducing the same level, at which the movie was mixed in the studio.

*THX Optimizer or Optimode for DVD movie releases. This places a set of test patterns on the disc to enable the home theater enthusiast to tweak the video display to the same settings as used during the production stage."


There's a lot more about the process at the link I posted.

Why don't you post a list of the products you claim are THX certified - and list the standard they claim certifies them - but don't meet your standards?

 

Are your AR-9s certified?, posted on March 22, 2009 at 10:49:22
E-Stat
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If not, here's a great replacement conveniently found at Walmart.

rw

 

RE: Are your AR-9s certified?, posted on March 22, 2009 at 11:46:45
Jim McShane
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No, my AR-9s are not certified, they are full range speakers. But my Vance Dickason designed home theater speaker system I built is, and it's superb. Of course it cost much more than the product sold at Wal-Mart.

The AR-9s make gorgeous music, the HT system makes great movie sound. I wouldn't dream of switching them. They are doing two different tasks, which it seems you have a hard time grasping for some reason.

BTW, did you notice how high the customer ratings are on the Logitech product you linked to? For a non-audiophile these appear to be a very pleasing purchase. I'm sure there are far better THX certified speaker systems out there, but even this system appears to be very satisfying.

You still don't seem to understand what the certification represents. If you did, you'd know that THX is not a standard you would seek in order to certify the ultimate in general audio system performance. It's a HOME THEATER standard - that's not the same thing. It's designed to help people select components that will help them reproduce (as much as room/budget/WAF/etc. make possible) the movie theater performance. That's it.

But if it makes you feel better to mock me then go ahead. I just won't be replying anymore. You have at it though.

 

dBa vs dBc, posted on March 22, 2009 at 12:26:35
Steve O
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Briefly, dBa and dBc involve frequency response weighting or contouring by the sound level measuring device.

dBa more-or-less simulates the response of the ear by de-emphasizing the low and high end frequencies and emphasizing the midrange. One use of the dBa weighting was to evaluate the potential for noise induced hearing damage in a working environment because of the way it simulates human hearing (don't know if it's still the standard of the law). dBc is much flatter in response but still has rolloff in the lowest and highest frequencies because it allowed mfg of cost effective sound level meters with reasonably flat freq resp. dBlin is flattest and extends from subsonic frequencies to well above human hearing with little variation. This weighting (lack actually) is expensive to achieve and is usually associated with lab equipment.

 

RE: Does THX Certified really mean anything?, posted on March 22, 2009 at 13:28:11
Phil D
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Wow! Thanks for the information!

 

Dipole speakers, posted on March 22, 2009 at 13:31:31
Phil D
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I would think the Dipole speakers would be horrible for pure audio use...should I even try?

 

RE: Are your AR-9s certified?, posted on March 22, 2009 at 13:51:11
E-Stat
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...did you notice how high the customer ratings are on the Logitech product you linked to?
I sure did. Here are some memorable comments:

"Movies, music and games all sound incredible... {We're talking triple threat here}
Turn the whole system up for some sound that'll annihilate anything in front of the speakers...
Not gona lie, my girlfriend is jealous of my speakers..."


I think that about says it all.

You still don't seem to understand what the certification represents.
Sure I do. Just read the commentary about speakers from the text you excerpted:

...designed such as to fit the different surround sound technologies in their totality, into high-end home theater systems

Boy, those "high end" Z-2300 babies really do define the totality of the experience! I'm delighted that you find the standards provide a useful frame of reference. Sorry, I don't.

rw

 

I have a question for you, posted on March 22, 2009 at 14:10:53
E-Stat
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What do the following speakers all have in common?

Apogees
Magneplanars
Dayton-Wrights
Sound Labs
Quads
Orion

rw

 

RE: I have a question for you, posted on March 22, 2009 at 14:45:17
Phil D
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All are planar/ribbon speakers....

 

RE: Are your AR-9s certified?, posted on March 22, 2009 at 15:03:25
Jim McShane
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Look, I've tried to be nice and have a respectful conversation - but as I saw in your posting history that's often not your style.

Don't go putting words in my mouth.

You took a part of the article I copied and used it out of context. That's a typical tactic when you have no facts to back up a position. I posted the link so anyone could read the ENTIRE article I excerpted; that way nothing is out of context. You have NOTHING to back up your position, nothing except twisting the words of others.

Show me where I ever said the Logitech setup was high end - go ahead, show us all. I said only that the people that bought it liked it. The rest of what you posted is just stuff you made up.

I made an exception to reply again in this case, because you distorted what I said to suit your purposes. You are entitled to have an opinion - you are NOT entitled to twist my words around and represent the result as if I said it.

Express your opinion, agree to disagree, whatever. But don't play word games with my posts.

 

In addition, posted on March 22, 2009 at 15:21:19
unclestu52
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THX was originally designed to be a professional standard, not quite intended for home use. The specs were designed for movie theaters and such and thus had fairly large amplifier power recommended ( 110 watts, IIRC).

IIRC Star Wars had been playng in the theaters for a year and when Lucas toured the US he realized that having three soundtracks ( mono, stereo and surround sound) meant that often theaters would be playing the wrong soundtrack for their theaters. The public was not getting the sound that they were supposed to be hearing. The THX qualification was desinged to insure the movie going public that they got what they paid for.

As such do not be taken in by the THX certification, IIRC, the original Terminator movie on LD was THX certified and it was never recorded even in Sstereo. it has a monophonic soundtrack.

THX is merely a licensing program which certifies that the equipment meets THX standards. Much like the underwriters lab certification not having it does not mean that the equipment is automatically inferior or that it does not meet standards. Professional QSC amps used in the Mann's Chinese theaters meet all THX standards but they were not certified when they were installed.

IIRC the certification cost $10K per product per year. It was only later that THX came out with a "small" room certification, because many of their standards were overkill for home listening. At one point even Boston Acoustics had speaker that were THX certified.....


Stu

 

Nope, posted on March 22, 2009 at 15:48:54
E-Stat
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The Orion is not a planar/ribbon design. It uses conventional cones 'n domes. Next guess?

rw

 

The advertising copy for THX (that's what you posted), posted on March 22, 2009 at 16:09:39
E-Stat
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would lead you to believe that their standards are rigidly based upon qualitative standards. They are not. Some THX stuff is exceptional. Some is crappy. Folks reading your excerpt about the THX standards might reasonably believe that ALL THX certified components live up to the promise as stated in the text. Obviously, such is not the case. I didn't take anything out of context. The criteria for speakers is demonstrably a joke with the inclusion of the Logictech computer speakers.

...because you distorted what I said
Whatever did you say that I "distorted"? I agreed that folks really liked the $150 powered speakers. I based my notion of "what the certification represents" on the ad copy you provided.

It would really be a useful tool if the THX standards weren't watered down to the point of irrelevancy. Sorry if you don't appreciate my sense of humor. :)

rw

 

RE: Nope, posted on March 22, 2009 at 16:24:55
Phil D
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I know, I know...dipole!

 

Bingo!!!!, posted on March 22, 2009 at 16:43:59
E-Stat
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Arguably, some of the best speakers available are dipoles. All of them are of the fore and aft variety. I get a very realistic stage presentation with the SLs. I've seen some HT flavors, however, with tweeters directed at 90 degrees with respect to the woofers. I'm not sure how well such a configuration works.

rw

 

So... back to the original question..., posted on March 23, 2009 at 01:56:52
FenderLover
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Does the THX term have any significance in buying end-user products? Just for watching movies? Any significance for listening to tunes, only?


Much thanks (but a tad confused, still)

 

RE: dBa vs dBc- more, posted on March 23, 2009 at 08:01:45
Bold Eagle
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The idea behind dB A, B, & C weighting was to match the sound level meter response to uman hearing at three different sound pressure levels. The Robinson and Dadson equal loudness contours (replacing the older and less accurate Fletcher-Munson curves) are the inverse of these weighting curves. A weighting is used for low levels where the ear has a lot less sensitivcity in the bass and treble, B at a higher level where the ear's sensitivity to the extremes is better, and C for much higher levels. In my ancient GenRad Handbook, A weighting is intended for use below 55 dB, B for 55-85 dB and C above 85. A weighting is -30 dB at 50 Hz (an indication of just how insensitive the ear is to bass at a low level), B is -12 dB at 50 Hz, and C is -1. All three curves are about -4 dB at 10 kHz and -10 dB at 20 kHz. Oddly, the A curve rises slightly above the others (by a dB or so)at around 4 kHz. 4 kHz is the ear's most sensitive frequency and it explains why we have the "BBC dip".

Clearly, the use of A weighting curves for industrial sound level measurements in the government regulations is a gift as they should be B weighted, not A weighted as specified. The limit for 8 hour exposure used to be 85 dB A weighted - it might still be, but I haven't worked in this area in 15 years.

You might also note that most of the less expensive meters lack the B weighting setting, which is really the right one for most home level measurements. For what it's worth, the preferred level for music listening among recording engineers and musicians is 85-88 dB long term average, which is quite loud.

As to loud: 115 dB is not un-typical for a Disco or club for short term peak levels (fast meter response, no weighting). In doing the engineering for a local Disco, I measured the SPL in several local Discos. The best of them (in terms of sound quality) was a live band and long term average levels were 105 dB (no weighting, slow response) with peaks to 122 dB ( meter set to peak, fast response, no weighting). This was a very large room and the levels were measured 2/3 of the way back, which is where the band's sound man was located. The sound quality was excellent and didn't sound amplified - it was as if they could all play and sing at inhuman levels (the demon band?).

During the band's break, the house system came on and was 108 db average with 118 dB peaks; and sounded like crap.

So I don't find the THX spec of 115 dB to be at all out of line for pro systems.

Jerry

 

I only believe in self-certification these days..., posted on March 23, 2009 at 14:11:39
dadbar
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Having worked for 3 companies in the past 20 years that were ISO 9001, ISO 13485, TS 16949 etc etc etc......I have come to the conclusion that certification is highly overrated.

Why trust someone else's certification when you can create your own? I keep a self-certification certificate signed by me in my office so if any clients ask if I am certified I point to the document on the wall and say yes.

So go ahead and certify any of your gear as THX Certified (i.e., by Tom, Harry & Xavier)

 

You make the call, posted on March 23, 2009 at 17:21:29
E-Stat
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THX Certified speakers

rw

 

The Technics se-tx100 heard anything about it?, posted on April 1, 2009 at 19:46:09
cherry702


 
Hi there, I am in the same boat, someone gave one of those to us and I don't have a clue what it is, value and what to do with it. Have you learned anything more about it?

 

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